Derbyshire’s health leaders are urging people to remember to take care of their mental wellbeing, as well as physical, during these unprecedented times.

As day-to-day life continues to be very different for most people as the nation responds to the Covid-19 epidemic, the toll on mental health can have an impact, warns Dr Steve Lloyd.

Dr Lloyd, Medical Director of NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This pandemic has changed the way day-to-day life is lived for the majority of Derbyshire residents and will continue to do so despite some easing of restrictions.”

“Employment, contact with families and friends, access to usual hobbies and daily routine has all dramatically changed, and these all help support good mental health so it’s ok not to be ok at the moment.

“When you’re busy dealing with the here and now and the realities of life, mental health can be overlooked, but it is equally important as physical health, so it’s vital we take good care of ourselves, and each other, at this time.”

Clear and detailed help about NHS support and advice for everything to do with mental health is available online at www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/ and www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/.

If you are concerned about how you’re feeling there is information about where to go for help, including contacting NHS 111 online or by phone, and getting in touch with your GP practice.

In Derbyshire there is also specific support available at https://joinedupcarederbyshire.co.uk/public-info-covid-19/your-wellbeing-during-pandemic and through the mental health support line run by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which has been established to help people of all ages who are experiencing increased mental health needs during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The line is open from 9am to midnight, seven days a week, and is staffed by mental health professionals. The support line can be reached by calling 0300 790 0596. More information is available at www.derbyshirehealthcareft.nhs.uk/support-line

Specific free online mental health and wellbeing resources are also available for Derbyshire parents and carers, and children and young people.

Kooth is a free online mental health resource for children and young people aged 11 to 25 in Derby and Derbyshire. No formal referral is needed – all you need to do is set up a user account on the website at www.kooth.com/

Qwell is a free mental health resource for parents and carers of young people under 18 years, and again, no referral is needed, only that a user account is set up on the website at www.qwell.io/

Both Kooth and Qwell are available every day of the year, via mobile, tablet and desktop computers, between noon to 10pm, Monday to Friday, and between 6pm and 10pm at weekends. The services provide access to accredited counselling support, peer support via online forums and information on a variety of topics.  

Dr Lloyd added: “Although “normal” life is now different, it’s important to prioritise and look after your mental health.

“Try to make some time for yourself every day to do some of the things you enjoy, whether that is reading, or arts and crafts like knitting or drawing.

“You could make time for gardening, if you have safe access to an outside area or garden, as NHS ‘social prescribing’ already advises people to take part in these kind of activities to promote emotional wellbeing.

“In the Long Term Plan, NHS England committed to building the infrastructure for social prescribing in primary care so that at least 900,000 people will be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24.

“It may sound simple, but busy, responsible lifestyles often mean people overlook their own care as they’re busy looking after others, and making sure you stay well mentally and physically is really important.”